Regional Reports-South

Cape Fear River

No destination in North Carolina can match the area south of Wilmington when it comes to numbers and size of flounder. October is one of the best months in which to take doormat-sized flounder in these waters, which include the ocean inlets and the Cape Fear River. Captain Rick Bennett guides out of Wrightsville Beach. His favorite spots are around Carolina Beach Inlet and Snow's Cut, a man-made ditch that carries the Intercoastal Waterway from Carolina Beach west to the Cape Fear River. He likes to fish the last two hours of the falling tide and the first two hours of the incoming tide, fishing live, but smallish, menhaden on a Carolina rig around drop-offs, deep holes and pilings. Captain Jimmy Price of Southport hangs out around the lower end of the river, fishing deep holes in front of boat docks where the backwash from big inboard or outboard engines scours the bottom, and also around concrete pilings and sandbars. He fishes a bucktail jig tipped with a Berkley Power Strip most of the time, but he'll also use finger mullet or small menhaden. He likes the last two hours before high tide and the first two hours of the falling tide. Both summer and southern flounder are present in the Cape Fear area. They're not easily distinguishable, but there are different size and creel limits for each species. Summer flounder are found in the more salty water of the ocean and inlets. The daily limit is eight, and there's a 151/2-inch size minimum. Southern flounder are usually caught in more brackish waters such as sounds and rivers; there is no daily creel limit, but the minimum size is 13 inches. Contact: North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (252-726-7021); Captain Jimmy Price (910-457-9903); Captain Rick Bennett (910-799-6120).